Internationalization of higher education in Asean

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I was the invited plenary speaker at the 47th Annual Convention of the Philippine Associate for Graduate Education in February 2014 with the theme “Quality Research as response to Asean 2015.” Here are some are migrants and perspectives of my statement.

The 21st century and the high speed of globalization enjoin Asean to give greater significance to higher education as a most potent tool against poverty, against famine and disease, against environmental degration, against violations of human rights and against lack of development sustainability, inter alia.

Very subtly para.10 Art.1-Purposes of the Asean Charter makes a reference to development of human resources through closer cooperation in education and life-long learning for the strengthening of the Asean Community. The fourth element of the Asean Community, viz “socio-cultural” needs strengthening in the strategic inclusion of higher education. Of course, it is given that higher education begins from pre-school to basic, to secondary to tertiary and these levels must be viewed from a whole perspective as part of the Community itself:

First and foremost, higher education must respond to the realities and challenges of globalization and development which are the phenomena of the 21st century, by translating these to opportunities both for national and regional good.


Today, universities and higher education institutions are called upon to be more EFFICIENT, FORWARD-LOOKING, MORE RELEVANT and MORE LEARNER-FOCUSED. The international objectives set forth by the Unesco for higher education institution’s enjoin them to deal with essential and crucial issues such as sustainable development, quality and excellence, equal opportunity, human rights and the integration of technology and cultural context of learning.

Asean countries as well as other developing countries face the dual challenge of strengthening and expanding human resources and reducing poverty levels. In this context, higher education and research are viewed as extremely important factors in development policy-formulation.

How does the setting for the second revolution referred to as technological change and globalization look like?

Let us take note of the following trends:

-Health care and maintenance

-Materials that are light, strong and inexpensive

-Data retrieval and manipulation

-Technology of communication techniques.

-Transportation technology that promises to increase the speed of product delivery by several than times today’s norm

-Automation of virtually every manufacturing process where the presence and intervention of human beings is a rare event

-Development of artificial intelligence through the use of computers; and integration of the financial and product markets

-Moving away from the traditional assembly line to a situation where a small team of five or six highly skilled individuals are responsible for building the ensure product. This condition as also likely to affect the distribution of income and wealth where the unskilled fall further behind their skilled counterparts.

-Typical business government or institutional employed is no longer male. –-Women ensuring workforce in record numbers such as women in proportionate numbers in the executive

Higher education is dependent on quality primary/secondary education; basic liberal arts education; basic research that is transferred to the market place and on continuing education for the re-training and adult education. At the same time, we will all be disappointed with the performance of our institutions of higher education, if the primary and secondary schools are not providing the basic education so essential for a student to obtain the maximum benefit from the higher education curriculum.

A responsive higher education curriculum must be adaptable to a changing environment and the intellectual ability to respond to the demands of that environment. On the other hand, adaptability is possible only through a broad liberal education in language and literature, history and social sciences, mathematics, physical and natural sciences and fine and performing arts. Liberal education teaches the student the skill of learning which in turn provides the adaptability.

In today’s world, we can no longer maintain any pretense to excellence unless our students and faculty participate in internalization. The level of return is largely dependent upon ensuring that our university is one of excellence and that we are given the tools to help our jurisdiction keep its competitive edge and drive the innovation process. In my book, To Excel and To Serve I said that today there can be no excellence without incorporating an international focus. This is imperative to keep abreast with higher education challenges and opportunities.

There are certain issues of internalization which must be addressed to cope with global trends, such as:

-Need to maintain a balance between internalization and preservation of cultural identity; and between internalization and the responsibilities of universities.

-Increasing role of the private sector as a provider of education, a commercial partner in off-shore activities, a stakeholder in newly established universities or an entrepreneur degrees in the internet.

-Importance of income generation from international students to replace or supplement government funding or to allow institutions to develop and fund their internalization programs.

-Opportunities provided by IT for flexible, cost-effective delivery of higher education individualized learning and broader access viz-a-viz the concerns of globalization, untested teaching approaches and inappropriate technologies.

-Need to implement cost-effective resource management schemes has also given rise to strategic alliances, cooperative ventures, and networking schemes between the academic and the business sector and among educational institutions.

Given this background, Asean must stand in solidarity in meeting the hard realities of globalization. Perhaps, this can be realized through:

-Harmonizing efforts to increase international understanding and global competitiveness by “ excellence in higher education”

-Harmonizing higher education institutions’ graduates in economic and technology development

-Establishing advisory councils for the development of various programs on international studies.

-Encouraging the linkage of academic programs with the requirements of corporate partners, particularly with those with international interests.

-Implementing short-term internship programs in business, arts, science and technology courses with participation of foreign structures.

Efforts have been exerted to enhance the mobility of professionals across the Asia-Pacific such as the APEC recognition of professionals the Asean-Australian skills recognition directory and regional standards for IT professionals.

It is logical that the trend toward globalization has provided impetus for networking of universities. The Asean Community must attend to this as matter of priority to create a pool of learned Asean nationals that could compete with the world’s brilliant professionals.

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1 Comment

  1. Education standards in the Phils have been on the decline for decades now.One of the glaring evidence is the non recognition of Phil graduates overseas.Pinoy grads have to re trained and do catchup studies just to be recognized in most developed countries.Universities and colleges in the Phils must raise their curriculum standards to at least our peers in the Australasian region if we have to be at par with them.